It's Not Too Late! Write Your Best Year-End Letter Now

It’s Not Too Late! Write Your Best Year-End Letter Now

           Tell me how you really feel, Mr. Collinsworth.

I’ll admit it. I was a pretty good student in high school. But when I was a senior, well...my interest in academics began to wane. Thus, one month before graduating, my social studies teacher, Mr. Collinsworth, had this to say (in red pen, no less) about my fabulous paper on the CIA:
“This is a pathetic excuse for a research assignment. It is inaccurate and does not cover the topic you were supposed to research.”
Oh, I don’t know, do you think he was miffed because my primary source was The Reader’s Digest? Or was it my compelling last sentence: “The question is ours to answer, do we let the CIA do their thing and we do our thing – or do we regulate their power?” That, my friends was Pulitzer material.
You, dear readers, will not face this same shameful fate if you begin to write your year-end letter now rather than (like my “research” paper) waiting one hour before it’s due.
In a nifty infographic from their website, Neon outlines “10 Year-End Giving Statistics Every Fundraiser Should Know.” Here are two you should definitely pay attention to:
1.  Nearly one-third (31%) of annual giving occurs in December.
2.  12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.
That’s why your year-end letter is so important. People want to give…but you have to ask.
Here’s the low down on writing your best year-end letter:
Make time to write it this week. You’ve still got a few days before the weekend. Just do it.
Highlight one great thing that your ministry or organization is doing.
Tell a story about one person and how that ministry is impacting him or her. Remember Mother Teresa’s wise words, “If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
Avoid loading on the statistics. This is a heart letter. Right brain, not left.
Write the letter, visualizing someone you like. This will help with the tone of the letter and help it avoid becoming a research paper.
Don't worry about going over one page. What you have to say is important. Don’t try to squish it all onto one page.
Start with a compelling opening line. There’s a reason that “It was a dark and stormy night” pulls people right in to wanting to read more.
Re-read a couple of previous posts for more tips. “Your Most Important Letter of the Season” and “Write Your Year-End Letter Right Now.”
Let me take a look at it! This is my early Christmas gift to you. Send me a copy of your letter, preferably in Word, and let me give you some feedback. I promise, no red pen and no mention of it being “pathetic.” Send it to me at InspiringGenerosity@gmail.com. I’ll try my best to get it back to you within two days after getting it.
You know that one of my favorite Scriptures is “God loves a cheerful giver.” Your year-end letter just might have the power to motivate your parishioners or donors in a way that makes them LOVE giving to you. But, they won’t do it unless you ask. Fire up your computer and start writing today.
P.S. Coming in February! “Inspiring Generosity in Your Congregation” with Rev. Chick Lane and Grace Duddy Pomroy. Feb. 10, 9am-3pm in Tigard, OR. For more information go to umoi.org/stewardship.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s still waiting for the Pulitzer Prize committee to call. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.